The quarterbacks are very talented and inexperienced. They are showing growing pains in decision making but have only thrown two interceptions all year. Both are athletic, but not as savvy at this point in their careers as Matt Jones from Arkansas. They have a combined 30 rushing yards on the season. Watching the Georgia game, the Bulldogs were relentless in getting after both quarterbacks and caused them to throw underneath a lot. They rely a great deal on screens and short hitches and let the receivers make plays.
The running backs are by committee. The best may be sophomore Justin Vincent, but they have three more in Alley Broussard, Shyrone Carey, and Joseph Addai that run very well also. I think this is their strongest unit on the team and what the Gators need to be prepared to stop. They are just behind the Gators in rushing yardage per game and currently sit 8th in the conference.
Their receivers are very talented and fast. They only get vertical too often but rely on them to make plays after short catches. Skyler Green and Dwayne Bowe are their top receiving threats and both have been hampered by injuries so far. Craig Davis actually leads the team in receiving with 18 catches on the year for 311 yards. True freshmen Early Doucet and Xavier Carter have a combined 3 touchdowns already this year. The athleticism is definitely apparent in that the receptions are short but they are still 3rd in the conference in passing yards per game. The tight end, David Jones, is primarily a blocker and has three catches all season.
The offensive line is supposed to be a team strength with three regular starters returning from last year. The Georgia defense really took it to the LSU offensive line and seemed that they were in the backfield all day making plays. They brought the blitz, but it didn't seem to matter. They got heat from every direction. Georgia's defense may be the best in the land, but I can't imagine them being that good. I think it was a combination of will-power and just a bad day by the offensive line of LSU. The Gators should hope that trend continues.
The offense is erratic but potent. The reason Georgia scored so many points is because the offense coughed up the ball too much. This is something the Gators are going to need to do. The key here will be how far off the defensive backs play from the receivers.
The defensive line has three new starters from last year's group. Marcus Spears is probably the best player on the entire team at the left defensive end spot, but the rest are a definite drop off from last season. Defensive tackle Glen Dorsey is a true freshman with a 300 pound body, but he can't match what the starters gave last year. Spears has 11 career sacks but only 1 this season. Teams are game planning around the all-star candidate.
The linebackers are headed by middle linebacker Lionel Turner. He turned in a team high 15 tackles against Oregon State in the season opener and leads the team in tackles. Freshman Ali Highsmith starts at the Sam and has taken over the spot from junior college transfer EJ Kuale. Junior Cameron Vaughn starts at the Will linebacker spot. Vaughn is a sure tackler and started games for the Tigers before this season. Highsmith is athletic, but still learning the ropes.
The secondary could be without post season awards candidate and senior Corey Webster. In his absence, senior Ronnie Prude could step in and play. Webster is an excellent athlete with the best skills in the secondary. He returns kicks and has seen action on offense with the young receiving corps the Tigers have. LaRon Landry was a freshman All-American last year and starts at the free safety spot for the second straight year. Senior Travis Daniels came into the season with eight starts under his belt at the other cornerback spot. Sophomore Jessie Daniels mans the strong safety spot and came into the season with one career start. The Tigers put a lot of pressure on their defensive backs and they are coached well by Nick Saban. They got burned a lot vs. the Bulldogs, but don't be kidded by that. David Greene made some awesome throws and the Bulldog receivers made likewise awesome catches in that game. This is a good bunch that is taught to gamble.
The defense will always be the strength of the LSU team. They don't have quite the firepower they had up front last year and especially on the defensive line. This makes them use their defensive backs more to put pressure on the quarterbacks to get the heat they like to generate. I think the scheming will be much the same as last year and just try and catch them in blitz situations and burn them. The major difference in the match-up here is that Leak is so much farther ahead and could actually try and take them out of the blitz mode if needed. I also like the match-up of the Gator offensive line vs. the LSU defensive line.
Skyler Greene was the best returner in the country last year and was the source of the only Tiger points in the game with the Gators last year. They have a ton of weapons that can fly as returners if Greene is hobbled.
Chris Jackson is the starting punter and place kicker. He averages 38.2 yards net punting and is 60% or 3-5 in field goals on the season.